By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
Like a storm brewing on the horizon, you could sense trouble on the first play for the Pymatuning Valley Lakers Friday night at Laker Stadium.
A botched handoff on the initial effort for PV wound up in the hands of a plethora of Edgewood Warriors at the Laker 30, and eight plays later, the Warriors scored. A 68-yard punt return by Riis Smith set up a score and helped the Warriors to a 19-0 lead after the first quarter.
That helped propel first-year Edgewood coach Josh Franke to his first win in Ashtabula County, 55-12.
“Our offensive line was totally the key tonight,” Franke said. “They really came to play. They did an excellent job in all directions, and if I could, I’d give them all game balls. Actually, I’ll have to pay for their great effort, anyway. I told them I’d buy the pizzas if we won and they played well.”
They were sharp going either direction. Edgewood rushed the ball for all eight touchdowns and gained 326 yards on 47 rushes to effectively control the ball and keep an outmanned PV team’s offense at bay.
Anthonie Magda gained 169 yards on 19 carries, Riis Smith added 84 on 10 tries, Gavin Buckmeier had 24 on four carries, and Alex Wisnyai gained 20 on nine carries.
Add in another 142 yards through the air for Wisnyai, spread among five receivers, and it is easy to see how the Warriors gained 468 yards
“Our guys played hard tonight,” Laker coach Neal Croston said. “They just had us outmanned. Give them credit for playing a very physical ballgame tonight. We got tired in the second half, too, and they never let up with the pressure.”
PV was in the game in the first half. Quintin Ratliff scored as the clock ran out on the first period from 68 yards out, and after his 31-yard punt return put PV (1-3) into Warrior territory to start the second quarter, it was 19-12. Alex Sturgill capped an 11-play drive late in the first half to open a 26-12 edge at the break, and the Warriors (1-3) dominated the second half to pull away.
Ratliff was tough in a losing cause for PV, but the Lakers hit only a single pass in 13 tries, while Wisnyai hit 8 of 15 for 142 yards in the game.
On the negative side both teams were penalties. Edgewood was flagged 11 times for 98 yards, the Lakers were nailed 10 times for 99, and eight other penalties were declined, keeping the game from gaining any momentum for either team.
A vastly improved Warrior team had too much for PV to handle.
“Absolutely, it’s great to get my first win here,” Franke said when asked if he was relieved to get it. “We knew Ratliff is a special player, so we tried some double spying on him in the second half with our nose guard and middle linebacker, and they did a great job of stopping him from cutting back in the middle of the field. He will get his yards, but if you can contain him a good bit of the time, you can beat their team.”
PV played the game without J.T. Willis, out with a knee injury. Croston is unable to speculate on how long he will be out or as to the damages.
Overall, the Warriors gained 468 yards to 182 for PV.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.